Language & autism (4)
Language & gender (4)
Selective mutism (3)
Developing children's communication (8)
Children's emotions (5)
Children and introversion (2)
High sensitivity (2)
Language & maths (3)
Improving adult communication (3)
Children and ICT (2)
Children & sleep (2)
Improving storytime & assembly (2)
Building vocabulary (3)

Bad Breath!
Understanding mood swings
The silent phase of EAL
Overcoming stage fright
Food poverty/language poverty
Children and trains
Speech sounds
Nelson Mandela tribute
Combating low self-esteem
Children and colour
Men and childcare
Non-verbal communication
Language and autism
'Small talk'
Children's behaviour
Music and feelings
Spelling problems
Describing children accurately
Sharing books with children
Singing and language

Developing children’s communication

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Ça plane por moi! Or how to help children who are learning a second language. With help from Plastic Bertrand and The Boss Hoss!

Date posted: Tuesday 30th September 2014

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I am ze King of ze Divan/ Ooh ooh ooh ooh
Plastic Bertrand: Ca Plane Pour Moi

In 1978 many people in the UK were ignorant about Belgium. A popular joke went like this:
Can you name three famous Belgians?
No? How about Hercule Poirot, Tin Tin and Hertz Van Rental?

In that same year Margaret Thatcher was leader of the Conservative party, who at the time were Her Majesty’s Opposition. We couldn’t have imagined it then, but a few years later Maggie would be Prime Minister, and life in Britain would never be the same again. The Conservatives of late have become divided about whether the UK being part of the European Union is a good idea or not. In 1978 the Shadow Cabinet was very clear about the EU: certain influences from continental Europe were eating away at the very fabric of British society. The most serious European threat- and particularly to our youth- came from Belgium. He was called Plastic Bertrand, and he was a punk. (more…)

You’ve gotta get in to get out: or how we can have satisfying conversations with young children. With help from Phil Collins, Genesis and John Noakes and Shep off of Blue Peter!

Date posted: Saturday 22nd March 2014

John Noakes and Shep: In the air tonight?
Phil Collins: Get down Shep?

It was the Summer of 1975. I was 17 and my life was in freefall. Actually that’s possibly a bit over-dramatic, as I was really feeling just a bit sad. I had gone to the Surrey University Free Arts Festival with my girlfriend and she got cross with me for spending too much time examining ‘living exhibits’ in the art department, involving students posing nude for no particularly good reason that I could make out, other than to be slightly shocking, while I only have eyes for you by Art Garfunkel played over a loudspeaker. My girlfriend stormed off and I was left contemplating my navel (actually it was not mine but belonged to a complete stranger). I wandered around the campus searching for She Who Must Be Obeyed, and bumped into Phil Collins. (more…)

We don’t need no Pink Floyd: or supporting children’s language development, with help from The Sex Pistols and Dr Feelgood

Date posted: Monday 17th March 2014

1Ummagumma by Pink Floyd:
Set the controls for the heart of no fun?
Johnny Rotten. It could have been me.

The world of British popular music was changed forever in just 10 minutes in 1975, when Malcolm McLaren saw John Lydon walking down the Kings Road in Chelsea, sporting a Pink Floyd T-shirt. Lydon looked totally unexceptional, apart from a mass of spots on his face and the words ‘I hate’ scrawled with black marker pen above the words Pink Floyd. McLaren was very impressed and asked Lydon to audition as singer for a new band he was planning to put together. Lydon couldn’t sing, so was signed on the spot. He was renamed Johnny Rotten and the rest is history. (more…)

“My castaway this week is…”: Or having a real conversation, with help from Kirsty Young, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Michael Rosen

Date posted: Sunday 26th May 2013

Kirsty Young interviewing

I have a bit of a fantasy that one day I will appear on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, where Kirsty Young asks me about the eight records I would take with me to my desert island, along with my favourite book and one luxury item. During the programme Kirsty gently quizzes me about my life, in her beautiful Scottish accent, and I explain each record‘s significance for me and respond to her charm by revealing insights into my life and times. (more…)

She’s buying a stairway to heaven: or how to help children wonder, with help from Led Zeppelin

Date posted: Sunday 19th May 2013

Led Zeppelin

The word wonder has several meanings. School assemblies are supposed to fill children with a sense of ‘awe and wonder’. Children should leave an outstanding assembly feeling thrilled and with a sense of the greatness of the world and the power of the spiritual life. As a teacher I would strive to achieve this state in the massed ranks of children, but they often left my assemblies on a Monday morning wondering what it had all been about. So in that sense, the word wonder involves thinking about confusion. (more…)

Lost in translation: or What helps children (and adults!) communicate in a new language?

Date posted: Saturday 9th February 2013

Scarlett Johansson Lost In TranslationOne of my favourite films is Lost In Translation, starring Bill Murray as a middle-aged actor in Tokyo, involved in making an advert for Japanese TV. Suffering from jet lag, boredom and culture shock, he befriends a very young Scarlett Johansson, playing a young American woman with time on her hands while her very inattentive photographer husband works away up country. (more…)

‘Not the survival of the loudest: or how to have a conversation with four children at once’ A play for four children and one adult.

Date posted: Saturday 26th January 2013

Johnny DeppThe scene: The cloakroom in a Foundation Unit

Mr Jones (MJ) is in the cloakroom at 8.45am, helping children put their coats on their pegs and ‘meeting and greeting’ children and parents as they arrive. Enter Jessica (a quiet, shy child) and her dad. Dad’s in a bit of a rush. He kisses Jessica, and says ‘Mummy will collect you later.’ He looks at MJ and says, ‘Mr Jones will help you with your bag and coat.’ (Winks at Mr Jones). Exit Dad. (more…)

A whop bop-a-lu a whop bam boo!* Making no sense but still learning to talk!

Date posted: Monday 21st January 2013

I visited Spain a few years after Franco had died, when the country was still a fledgling democracy. It was 1980, and Barcelona had just discovered Flower Power. Six months later they discovered Punk, and after that they settled down to become the fashion and cultural leaders of Europe. (Amazingly, the country’s youth never really embraced the New Romantics or Rick Astley.) After years of being told to look inwards, young people were keen to embrace everything from outside of Spain, and especially music from Britain and the US. (more…)